I am recently 21, and first moved from the UK to Portugal just a couple months after I turned 20. I had never even lived alone in England, so for my first time to be free, independent and responsible, choosing a different country (who’s language I do not speak) maybe wasn’t the wisest plan! But, just before getting ready to go back for my second season, I realise what a great thing it was, and how lucky and proud that I was able to do it!
I had a few close family friends in the area, so I wasn’t totally alone with no one to go to, but in my apartment it was just me, myself and I.. and I LOVED it! I was fortunate enough to be in a big beautiful apartment, just off the marina, 30 seconds from work and there was even a shop at the bottom of my block – perfect, I know! The building was safe, big enough for friends and family to come and stay, and was modern with every appliance I could think of, let alone need or even know how to use!
I really liked living on my own, partly because then I could leave my clothes on the floor, have a messy kitchen and not make my bed without feeling like I had to make an effort so as not to annoy the roommate, but also because I like my own company. At times, I am really loud and outgoing and a real people person, but at other times I can be an introvert. I like my own space; maybe to read a book, go for a walk, or just sit on the internet looking at all the places I want to someday travel. Sure, having roommates is great fun; company, someone to split the bills with and might make you feel safer staying there, but if you’re like me, then choosing to do it alone is just as awesome!
There are plenty of perks to living on your own; you have your own freedom; you don’t have to be back by a certain time, or worry about waking people up when you stumble in at 4am after a night out with friends, but the biggest advantage I took of living by myself is the independence it gave me and responsibility it taught me. When those bills come in with a ‘pay by’ date, you gotta pay them on time! When you leave the house, you’ve really got to make sure the hob is off and the door is locked! To some people, these will sound like natural, childish things, but for me it was something new and I now feel a lot more grown up and responsible than I did a year ago.
Living on your own is great, but if its your first time and your suddenly without your parents, it can take a while to get used to things. Over the weeks the realisation kicks in on just how much they did for you, and all the things that need doing that you would never think twice about! Back home in the UK my mum does everything for us, washes our clothes, irons them, cooks dinner, cleans the house and everything else. I thought, ‘hey, I’m just one person, I wont need to do much’ and its true I didn’t have as much to do as a mum of 2 children (well, 3 if you count my Dad), the work still slowly starts to mount up.. you will eventually run out of clothes and have to wash them, and after a few weeks the rug in the lounge will need to be hoovered.. These are things you can’t get away from, but without anyone there nagging you to do them daily, you can at least do them on your own terms, when you feel like it.
Another pro of living alone, if you don’t know the area so well, you will be forced to interact with the locals to get directions or advise on things. Not only will this help you get to know people and the community, but also improve your language skills.
It’s not scary either (as long as you are in a safe building)! I was originally worried I would scare myself into thinking someone was in my apartment when I heard a funny noise, but you soon get used to the sounds your place will make, and the silly thoughts you had will soon be out of your head and forgotten about! If you still aren’t sure, invite a couple of friends over to stay for a few nights until you’re comfortable to be there by yourself. Traveling the world can be expensive, but often there are ways to keep the costs down. Staying in studio apartments all around the globe can keep your costs down, so don’t let the fear of being alone put you off any of your big dreams! Learn to love your own company, and embrace the quiet moments you get to think and relax!